- Historic Sites
After The Air Raids
An insider’s account of a startling— and still controversial—investigation of the Allied bombing of Germany
April/may 1981 | Volume 32, Issue 3
Other operations, those against oil and the railroads, did have military effect. But strategic bombing had not won the war. At most it had eased somewhat the task of the ground troops who did. The aircraft, manpower, and bombs used in the campaign had cost the American economy far more in output than they had cost Germany. However, our economy being much larger, we could afford it. A final paragraph or two written by Henry Alexander somewhat overstated the contribution of air power to the outcome without altering the basic facts. The purposes of both history and future policy would have been served by a more dramatic finding of failure, for this would have better prepared us for the costly ineffectiveness of the bombers in Korea and Vietnam, and we might have been spared the reproach of civilized opinion. Still, no essential information was concealed or seriously compromised. Our large economic report The Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, which made all the basic points, was published without censorship of any kind.
My conduct of the argument made lasting and influential enemies, not, however, including Orvil Anderson. Once my text had been accepted, he urged that I not consider the war over and come to Japan. There the Navy and Naval Air arm had been playing the leading role. He wanted their claims to accomplishment now made subject to a similar excess of intellectual honesty.